Editor in Chief
The worth of networking cannot be easily defined by statistics. It is nearly impossible to determine exact numbers of how successful students are who devote time to networking versus those who do not. However, as the 40 to 50 Springfield College students that devoted nearly 12 hours of their day on April 10 to journey to the West Side YMCA in New York City learned, networking is not about immediate results – it’s about preparing for the future.
The Office of Alumni Relations put on the event as an extension of their established, on-campus networking “coffeehouse” that is held earlier in the school year. By taking this event on the road, the office was able to attract alumni in the New York and New Jersey area who could not attend the coffeehouse event at the college due to time constraints.
The event was the result of a team effort in planning and preparation, led by Director of Alumni Relations Tamie Kidess Lucey, Assistant Director Shannon O’Neill, Office Manager Maria Crawford, Assistant Director of the Career Center Sue Nowlan, and Associate Vice President for Development Scott Berg. The West Side YMCA site was provided by one of the college’s trustees, Jack Lund (G’82), president & CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York.
Between 20 to 30 college alumni were present to engage with students, first in a speed-dating format that gave small groups of students the chance to talk to one or two alumni for 10 minutes at a time before switching tables, and then in an open forum for the final portion of the event.
“I did enjoy the format of rotating around the tables. I only wish we had more time with each alum,” said Chris Walton (‘13), a graduate student in the Sport and Exercise Psychology major. “My favorite part, besides walking around NY, definitely was having the opportunity to mingle and hear the advice the alums had to offer.”
The event would not have been possible without the generosity of alumni, who took time out of their schedules to share stories, give tips for interviewing, and interact with the current crop of Springfield students.
“When I went to Springfield, I had mentors and people looking out for me, especially when I was getting closer to senior year and getting ready for the world after Springfield, so I think it’s important that the people who are getting ready to graduate hear stories about Springfield alums and what they went through,” Chris Farmer, class of 1987, said.
Farmer currently serves as a college counselor at a high school in the Bronx (Horace Mann School), where his main job is to help students get into the right college. As a Springfield College alum, Farmer makes it a priority to take students on visits to his alma mater to show off the place that prepared him for the working world.
“The leadership opportunities and the small community [at Springfield] were a really important part of my own development and my career path,” Farmer said.
Farmer, a former member of the swimming and diving team at Springfield, attributed the Humanics philosophy and spirit of leadership in service to humanity as integral parts of his journey in life after college. From the beginning he knew that he wanted to make a difference in kids’ lives by working in a school, and Springfield College helped him to further sharpen that passion.
Students were able to network with alumni such as Farmer to gain valuable advice and ultimately to get to know their predecessors, who Tamie Kidess Lucey referred to in an opening speech at the event as the larger “Springfield College family.”
Networking with alums is truly about talking to family – perhaps not family by blood, but family through the shared connection of spirit, mind and body.
“Networking with alumni is extremely important for students because they may not realize the amazing reach of the Springfield College community throughout the country,” Shannon O’Neill said. “Unlike other professionals, our alumni have the perspective of how the foundation of a Springfield College education plays into your preparedness for a career in leadership and service to others.”
As students filed onto a bus for the long ride home at the event’s conclusion, they did so after what amounted to a large family gathering. After all, one of the purposes of family gatherings is to connect with and give valuable advice to the younger generation. The NYC Networking event could not have fit that description more perfectly. It was the gathering of family – the Springfield College family – and students left with lessons that will only enhance their opportunities for the future.